Saint John's Wort Ale - Part 1

An experimental recipe for St John's Wort Ale.

Another beer recipe inspired by the ever fascinating Sacred and Healing Beers, available here.

St John's Wort

We've had this sat at the back of our forest of a herb garden for ages and I've not looked twice at it. It's famed for it's anti-depressant qualities and is used in many modern medicines for this purpose (doubtful it's in beer for that purpose, but on the other hand just the process of brewing it is making me happy... ). Apparently, it's also renowned for it's ability to reduce the healing time for wounds.

There are a bunch of different varieties, most of which seem to be regarded as a weed; and it has been used in brewing ales for centuries. Check out the wiki for more information.

Here's what it looks like:

 St John's Wort in the herb garden, and detail of flowers

The beer.

Firstly, the herb must be in it's flowering state. I didn't really have enough, so there was a little more leaf and stem than I would have liked . Also, I've only made a very small amount (just a demijohn full for starters).

What you'll need:

  • A metal pot or pan able to hold 6 litres (perhaps 1 - 1.5 gallons) of water
  • A container to use as a fermenter - I used a lidded bucket
  • About 200g (1/2 lb) of flowering St John's Wort
  • About 200g (1/2 lb) of brown sugar - the type of brown sugar is completely up to you. I picked a fairly refined light brown sugar.
  • 200g (1/2 lb) of light malt extract - found this at Wilkinson's (Walmart for those in the US)

The Method:

  • Bring the 6 litres of water to the boil and take off the heat. Add the St John's Wort, cover and leave to infuse overnight.

  • Next, strain the liquid, return to the heat and bring to the boil.
  • Cover, and leave to cool until it around 65C. This temperature was taken from the original recipe and obviously doesn't need to be exact; you just need it to be hot enough to dissolve the sugar and malt:
  • Add the sugar and malt, and stir.
The malt makes it smell wonderfully like Horlicks, perhaps it could be marketed as Alcohorlicks ... people could go to alcohorlicks anonymous ... I'll stop ...

  • Tip the mixture into your fermenter (bucket in my case), and leave to cool to room temperature.
  • Stir in about 5g of yeast. I use bog standard, off the supermarket shelf, dried yeast. It's cheap, and works fine.
  • Cover and leave for 5-6 days.

  • You can just see only have a very small amount of liquid in here. Currently I have no idea how this is going to taste. By the end of ..part 2 you may be able to make some kind of informed decision and up the quantities of everything if you want to.
See you in a week!


  1. Thanks for this unique recipe using St. John's Wort, I featured it on my blog:

    1. Hey, thanks Colorful Canary, glad you found it interesting :) Been a whil since I made this one.


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